On Thursday, August 25th, Master Conservationist Program history was made with the first ever Master Conservationist Program Graduate Reunion. A warm meal was enjoyed under the shade of an old barn, with the cool summer evening breeze blowing through. Folks of all ages shared experiences and ideas, while DNR and County Conservation professionals answered questions and shared resources. The setting sun could not stop the conversations that went well into the evening.
The Master Conservationist Program Graduate Reunion welcomed participants from each of three offerings held in Henry and Des Moines Counties spanning between 2017 to an ongoing offering in 2022. Participants were invited to come connect and learn with others from the program and share what they’ve done since graduation.
Virginia Ekstrand, a Master Conservationist Program Graduate and multi-year Master Conservationist class presenter, hosted the event on her farm in Henry County. Those that attended enjoyed a lovely dinner, conversation and idea sharing with others, and were given the opportunity to hear what folks have done since completing the program. Virginia provided a tour of her property to show how she is putting her Master Conservationist Program knowledge to use as well!
Attendees reported a wide range of conservation activities including volunteering to help restore local prairies, converting property into native woodlands, and leading rehabilitation of a local pollinator garden! Along with sharing their work, graduates were encouraged to share their ideas moving forward. Many of them plan on getting together to develop a group volunteer project.
The event was a huge success and many requested more opportunities to get together more often. We hope this reunion will be the first of many such reunions across the state as the network of Master Conservationist Program graduates continues to grow!